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Do Ezekiel 18 & 33 Disprove Calvinism?

Do Ezekiel 18 & 33 Disprove Calvinism?


Ezekiel 18:23 in the Context of Calvinist Theology

Ezekiel 18:23 states, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” This verse is often discussed in the context of Calvinism due to its emphasis on God’s desire for repentance and life, which seems to contrast with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. However, within Calvinist theology, this verse is not seen as contradictory but rather as part of a more nuanced understanding of God’s will and human responsibility.

In Calvinism, God’s will is understood in two ways: His decreed will, which encompasses what He sovereignly ordains, and His moral will, which reflects His commands and desires for human conduct. Ezekiel 18:23 is seen as an expression of God’s moral will, revealing His character and desire for repentance and life. Calvinists believe that while God desires repentance and does not delight in the death of the wicked, His decreed will ultimately determines the salvation of the elect.


The Interplay of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

The interplay of divine sovereignty and human responsibility is central to Calvinist theology. While God’s sovereignty in election is emphasized, human beings are still seen as responsible for their actions. In the case of Ezekiel 18:23, the call for repentance is universal, yet Calvinists believe that the ability to respond to this call is a result of God’s grace, given to the elect. This view is supported by passages like Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

This perspective allows Calvinists to maintain that God’s sovereign election and the genuine offer of repentance and life to all people coexist harmoniously. God’s calling for repentance is sincere, and His desire for the wicked to turn from their ways is genuine, reflecting His merciful character.

Ezekiel 18:23 and the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace

Calvinism’s doctrine of irresistible grace is pertinent when discussing Ezekiel 18:23. This doctrine states that those whom God has elected and called to salvation will inevitably come to a saving faith. The desire for repentance expressed in Ezekiel 18:23 aligns with this doctrine, as Calvinists believe that God’s efficacious call leads the elect to repentance.

The harmony between Ezekiel 18:23 and Calvinism lies in the understanding that while God’s call for repentance is extended to all, it is effectively realized in the lives of the elect through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is consistent with passages like John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.”


In conclusion, Ezekiel 18:23, with its emphasis on God’s desire for the repentance and life of the wicked, complements rather than contradicts Calvinist theology. The passage is integrated into Calvinism through a nuanced understanding of God’s will and the interplay of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

Read More

  1. “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” by Loraine Boettner – Offers a thorough explanation of Calvinist doctrines, including how they align with passages like Ezekiel 18 and 33.
  2. “Chosen by God” by R.C. Sproul – Sproul discusses the harmony between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, providing insight into how Calvinism interprets challenging passages.

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